New Delhi: Former JNU student leader Umar Khalid alleged before a court here on Monday that his custody in a case related to the northeast Delhi riots in February was extended illegally , mechanically and without prior intimation to his lawyers.
The submission was made before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Dinesh Kumar through video conferencing in the case related to rioting in Khajuri Khas area.
Khalid was arrested in the case on October 1 and is in judicial custody. He was earlier arrested in September in a separate case related to larger conspiracy in the riots which erupted between anti-CAA protesters and those supporting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, killing over 50 people and scores injured.
Advocate Sanya Kumar, appearing for Khalid, alleged that since the beginning of his arrest in the case, his lawyers were not given copies of the remand applications and denied information about when and before which judge he would be produced.
Time and time again the remand was mechanically granted. Case diaries were not signed, we were not supplied a copy of the remand application, she claimed.
The court has put up the matter for further hearing on November 27.
The application, moved by advocates Trideep Pais and Kumar, sought directions to the investigating agency as well as the jail authorities to provide a copy of the application seeking remand/extension of remand to Khalid’s counsels in advance to the proceedings.
It also sought directions to the police to intimate the counsels about the time, place and manner of all future remand proceedings for Khalid one day in advance.
It requested the court to clarify that the proceedings for remand or its extension cannot be carried out mechanically and that the counsels for Khalid be permitted to participate effectively, either physically or through video conferencing, in all such proceedings in the future.
During the hearing, Kumar said that when Khalid was produced on October 1 before the duty magistrate, he had requested that his counsels be apprised of the proceedings but his request was rejected.
He was sent to police custody for three days. On October 4, he was sent to judicial custody for 14 days which was extended on October 18 and further on October 31.
Khalid’s counsel further alleged that despite repeated requests to inform them about where those remand proceedings would happen and before which judge, the police only informed them that it would happen at Tis Hazari district courts complex and around 11 am and did not give any further information.
Kumar then got the details from the court.
On October 18 we met the same fate. We tried to reach out to the police, the jail authorities, the investigating officer. We were not given any intimation about where the remand would happen. Then after much difficulty we found out the details at the last minute and joined the proceedings, she said.
She claimed on November 1, the magistrate’s court staff informed them that they would be able to join the video conferencing as Khalid would be produced through virtually from jail but later the judge denied them the permission saying it was an automatic remand extension and their presence was not required.
When we produced previous court’s orders directing supply of remand application to us, the court staff sent a link to join the proceedings. Umar Khalid was produced. When we asked for a copy of the remand application, the call got disconnected. Then we receive a call from the court staff saying they don’t yet have a copy yet, she alleged.
Kumar said that at the time the accused was produced, there was no application or case diary before the court.
She said later they received a copy of the remand application which was dated back to October 31 along with the court’s order stating that his counsel’s submissions have been heard on it.
How can I give submissions when I received the copy of it only with the court’s order? What good is a remand application which comes with the order. The purpose of the remand application is that I can give my submissions on it so that remand proceedings don’t happen in a mechanical manner… We either don’t get or get it in a belated manner after the order, his counsel said.
Kumar added that they were told there was no material required for extension of judicial custody.
It is absolutely against settled principle. Umar Khalid’s custody was extended illegally and mechanically. This is a serious issue. The logistical difficulties due to COVID-19 pandemic cannot come in the way of the rights of an accused or their counsel, she further said.
Special Public Prosecutor Manoj Chaudhary, appearing for the police, said moving an application every 14 days for extension of judicial custody was not by law but by precedent.
If the investigating officer chose not to move an application, the accused’s custody will automatically be extended, Chaudhary added.
Communal violence had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after clashes between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.
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